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John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sheldon "Chief" Bender dies

Sheldon "Chief" Bender died Wednesday. Bender ran the scouting and player development department in the Big Red Machine days.

Great guy, great baseball man.

From the Reds:

Chief Bender died today at Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton, Ohio. He was 88 years old.

Sheldon “Chief” Bender, director of the Reds farm system from 1967 to 1989, retired from baseball in 2005 after spending 64 years in the game as a player, manager and executive. The last 39 of those years came as a member of the Reds front office working in scouting and player development. Under Bender’s leadership, the farm system produced many future stars, including Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey Sr., Don Gullett, Mario Soto, Ron Oester, Tom Browning, Paul O’Neill, Chris Sabo, Eric Davis, and Barry Larkin. In honor of his contributions, the Reds renamed their minor league player of the year award the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award in 2002.


at 4:22 PM Blogger Carlisle1974 said...

Sad news. That's a pretty impressive list of talen that he was able to sign. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

at 5:26 PM Anonymous Jim Crowley said...

I met "Chief" Bender at the Winter Meetings in 1992. Doc Rodgers introduced us. We hit it off immediately. Since then I have seen him a number of times, at the ballpark and at the annual LaSalle High School sports stag.
He was always friendly, and eager to talk about his life in baseball. We often talked about the necessities of being a good scout, and how the game of baseball has changed so much over the years. As I recall, Chief told me that Bob Howsam brought here to Cincinnat from St. Louis when Bob became the Reds new G.M. in 1967. How ironic that we lost both men within days of one another. What a loss for the game.
Let's celebrate the life of a "baseball original", Chief Bender. May God grant him eternal salvation.

at 7:20 PM Anonymous redsfanwoody said...

Man, another sad loss. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

at 7:51 PM Blogger redlegsbengal said...

Another sad loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

at 7:55 PM Blogger redfuture said...

What a legacy for the his current counterparts to live up to. I know the Reds are already planning on wearing a Nuxhall patch. What are the chances that they also wear some badge of honor Howsam & Bender as well?

at 11:52 PM Blogger MarthaUD said...

Thank you for all your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. I am Chief's granddaughter, Martha. For the longest time, I always saw him as just "my grandpa" but in the last few years, I saw how many lives he has changed and what a difference he has made in the baseball world. He will never be forgotten. Baseball was the world to him and it will remain in his heart forever. I truly believe he is up playing ball with "the greats" in the diamond in the sky.

at 1:15 AM Blogger HoosierVirg said...

Martha, sorry for your loss, he was a great man which I am sure is not telling you anything you didn't already know. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. Did you happen to go to school in Loveland? I had a student in one of my classes before I retired whose grandfather was a scout for the Reds and her name was Martha too.

at 8:27 AM Blogger jdeezman said...

Another great from yester-year rounds third and heads for home.
I would also like to echo the sentiments of everyone else Martha.
My condolences to you and your family.

at 8:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A sobering reminder that it won't be long, especially after Marty hangs it up, that all links to the Big Red Machine will be gone except for the memories.

I hope they get this bloated mess of a franchise headed in the right direction soon, or losing those links to the storied history made possible by Chief, Joe, Bob Howsam, et al., could have a very negative effect on the fan base.

at 8:36 AM Blogger mtuudmom said...

I have been honored to have "Poppa Chiefy" in my life for almost 30 years now. Not only was he a role model to me but the most loving Grampa and hero to my two children, Eric and Martha Muller. Because of their devotion to this wonderful and kind man, Martha chose to attend college at U.D. and upon Eric's graduation from M.T.U. he,too, chose to be close and pursue his Masters at U.D. The kids spent every Sunday with "Chiefy" and Eric was able to attend every home game with him during the 2007 season. I have never witnessed as close of a relationship as that of my children with this gracious man. To quote Grantland Rice from 1908 "For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name/He marks-not that you won or lost-but how you played the Game." Grampa Chiefy played the game of life with dignity, integrity, and love. Though there is a hole in our hearts, I am sure, like my daughter Martha said, that he is up there playing ball with the other greats.

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